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Boost your natural immunity: 6 easy health tips

The best way to fight off illnesses and chronic health issues is to boost your natural immunity.

Natural immunity! That’s a hot topic that many drug manufacturers would rather we forgot exists altogether. Nonetheless, our immune system is an incredible defense mechanism. Although they can be useful in promoting health, no medicine or vaccine can replace a healthy natural immune system.

Being healthy isn’t about waiting to be sick to do something for our health. Let’s take a look at what’s immunity, telltale signs of a weakened immune system, and 9 ways to boost our natural immunity.

What is immunity?

Our immune system defends our body against infection and illness. Put simply, immunity is a process by which our body develops the ability to protect itself from getting ill when exposed to infectious agents such as bacteria, virus, parasite or fungus.

Immunity is a complex system that enables specialized cells to produce a response to invading germs or viruses. This natural defense can take the form of specific proteins called antibodies, which are released into our bloodstream to fight threats. These antibody producing cells can recall different germs and viruses to detect their presence in the future and produce antibodies to stop them.

What is natural immunity?

Natural immunity happens once we get infected by a germ and our immune system responds by making targeted antibodies. The first infection could make us ill. Yet our body is better equipped to respond to future agressions. As a result, we are less likely to get infected by that same germ again without the potential side effects of immunity acquired via vaccines or drugs.

What about vaccine-induced immunity?

It’s now impossible to think about immunity and not wonder about natural vs vaccine-induced immunity. Let’s start by stating that not all vaccines are made equal.

Vaccine-induced immunity has become controversial. Some vaccines are accepted as historically effective to help patients achieve immunity to a particular disease without having to contract the illness.

However, when it comes to the can of worms that is COVID-19, most recent studies are showing that natural immunity is higher than vaccine-induced.[1]Gazit S, Shlezinger R, Perez G, et al. Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections. medRxiv. Published online August 25, 2021. … Continue reading For a disease with a survival rate of over 99.9% across ages 0 to 69,[2]Axfors C, Ioannidis JPA. Infection fatality rate of COVID-19 in community-dwelling populations with emphasis on the elderly: An overview. medRxiv. Published online July 13, 2021. … Continue reading and a new type of vaccine about which we have limited independent research, there’s a cost / benefit ratio that’s pretty clear to many. 

Signs of a weakened immune system

In our aseptic world, we tend to forget that a little bacteria is a good thing! So put away your hand sanitiser that can actually cause more harm than good and read on.[3]Coco Ballantyne. Strange but True: Antibacterial Products May Do More Harm Than Good. Scientific American. Published June 7, 2007.

It’s good to be aware of the below symptoms. If you are noticing them, it might be time to boost your natural immunity. Nonetheless, they can be attributed to a number of sources or be temporary. These should not be cause for concern if they don’t last.

Typical signs of a weak immune system include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Repetitive colds and flus
  • Excessive allergies
  • Chronic digestive issues (diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation)
  • Eczema and dry itchy skin
  • Eyes and nose constantly very dry
  • Lengthy wound healing process

6 tips to boost your natural immunity

Strengthening your immunity naturally is actually quite straightforward. These tips will seem pretty evident, but at least they don’t require a lot of effort. Even healthy people can benefit from reviewing their habits to promote their immune system.

1. Hydration is key to a healthy body

Being well hydrated helps the body get enough oxygen and flush out toxins. Drinking enough water doesn’t protect you from germs or viruses, but being dehydrated can affect our overall health. 

Being dehydrated can cause headache and lower physical ability, focus, mood, digestion and kidney function. Together, these symptoms can increase the probability of illness.[4]Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and healthNutr Rev. 2010;68(8):439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

A good indication that you are sufficiently hydrated is to check the color of your urine. Pale yellow is a sign that you are drinking enough.

Listen to your body; drink more when you are thirsty. You may need more fluids if you exercise, work outside or if the climate is hot.

Water is best, virtually no digestion and no calories; it goes straight into hydrating your body. Although tea and juice can bring some nutrition or antioxidants, be mindful of their sugar content.[5]Freeman CR, Zehra A, Ramirez V, Wiers CE, Volkow ND, Wang GJ. Impact of sugar on the body brain and behavior. Frontiers in Bioscience. 2018;23(12):2255-2266. doi:10.2741/4704

As we get older, we lose the feeling of thirst and the urge to drink, so it’s good to be mindful of how much fluids we are getting.[6]Kenney WL, Chiu P. Influence of age on thirst and fluid intake. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Sep;33(9):1524-32. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200109000-00016. PMID: 11528342.

2. Sleep & rest are the foundation of a strong immune system

There’s a strong connection between sleep and immunity. 

A 2016 study of over 22,000 participants found that people who slept less than six hours per night or who had sleep issues were more likely to have colds and other respiratory infections.[7]Prather AA, Leung CW. Association of Insufficient Sleep With Respiratory Infection Among Adults in the United States. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):850–852. … Continue reading

Getting enough rest can strengthen your natural immunity. It’s a time when our body restores itself. Similarly, we tend to sleep more when we are sick.

On average, adults should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, while teens need a good 8 to 10 hours and children up to 14 hours.[8]Chaput JP, Dutil C, Sampasa-Kanyinga H. Sleeping hours: what is the ideal number and how does age impact this?Nat Sci Sleep. 2018;10:421-430. Published 2018 Nov 27. doi:10.2147/NSS.S163071

3. Physical activity for an instant boost to your natural immunity

Aside from regulating weight, releasing dopamine and flushing your toxins, exercise is also good for your immune system.

The good news is that you don’t need to be an athlete to reap the benefits of physical activity. Studies show that even a moderate exercise session can reduce inflammation and promote your immune cells to regenerate.[9]Simpson RJ, Kunz H, Agha N, Graff R. Exercise and the Regulation of Immune FunctionsProg Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:355-380. doi:10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.08.001

Moderate exercise includes brisk walking, bicycling, jogging, swimming or hiking.

Related: Lactic acid vs lactate: why are muscles sore after working out?

4. Vitamin D promotes health and prevents diseases

An essential component of a strong immune function, vitamin D has been in the press quite a lot recently. There was already evidence of associations between vitamin D deficiency and impaired immune function.[10]Vanherwegen AS, Gysemans C, Mathieu C. Regulation of Immune Function by Vitamin D and Its Use in Diseases of Immunity. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2017;46(4):1061-1094. … Continue reading Now more recent studies show that patients with vitamin D deficiency are 14 times more likely to have severe or critical COVID-19 than patients with normal levels.[11]Dror AA, Morozov N, Daoud A, et al. Pre-infection 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels and association with severity of COVID-19 illness. Jin D-Y, ed. PLOS ONE. 2022;17(2):e0263069. … Continue reading

Most adults and kids don’t get enough vitamin D from sun exposure, making supplements a good idea.

Some of the foods that are high in vitamin D include egg yolks, salmon, mushrooms and sardines. Or just like in Mary Poppins, cod liver oil.

5. Ginger, garlic, ginseng, turmeric are some of the best foods to boost your natural immunity

These four foods are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet and can offer a great immunity boost. Offering natural anti-inflammatory properties they help regulate chronic inflammation which impacts the progression of many diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers.[12]Chen L, Deng H, Cui H, et al. Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organsOncotarget. 2017;9(6):7204-7218. Published 2017 Dec 14. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.23208

Ginger, garlic, ginseng and turmeric are also filled with antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. You can consume them as health supplements, dried spices or fresh.

All four can be used in your regular dishes, grating them into baked goods or stir fries, or added into soups.

Ginger, ginseng and turmeric are also great as a warm beverage. Just simmer in boiling water, add honey and lemon juice to taste. To use more turmeric, try a simple Golden Milk recipe; it’s also a great anti-inflammatory.

Related: 13 factual health benefits of ginger

6. Probiotics: a strong gut for stronger immunity

70% to 80% of our immune system is located in our gut.[13]Wiertsema SP, van Bergenhenegouwen J, Garssen J, Knippels LMJ. The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of … Continue reading It’s influence is so important on our body and mind that our gut has earned the moniker of “second brain.”

Studies show that a flourishing gut flora can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful foreign organisms.[14]Wu HJ, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunityGut Microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14. doi:10.4161/gmic.19320 So keep your gut microbes happy with a healthy serving of probiotics.

Get your probiotics in health supplements or fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir or natto. Or even drink them! Kombucha and kefir water are a great source of probiotics.

Key takeaway

  • You can boost your natural immunity right now.
  • There’s a lot you can do to support your health by promoting your natural immunity through your lifestyle and diet.
  • By drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, exercising moderately, getting enough Vitamin D and adding health boosting foods to our diet we can strengthen natural immunity.

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*Be mindful about your health. This article is provided for informational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.